February 25, 2021

Advanced Scheduling for Public Safety

In the day-to-day of managing public safety workers such as firefighters, police officers, and other emergency responders, it’s critical to ensure sufficient staffing levels around the clock. To effectively serve the public, it’s not just a matter of having the right number of people available to cover shifts, but having the necessary amount of skills, experience and combination of job ranks.

TCP’s Advanced Scheduler solution, designed with public safety organizations in mind, helps you tackle the most complex scheduling needs, so you can efficiently schedule shifts and empower employees to manage their schedules more effectively.

The Challenges of Workforce Scheduling in Public Safety Organizations

Scheduling is often a juggling act. You need to provide each staff member with their optimum number of working hours while also achieving the right ratio of skill levels and rank coverage. For example, a fire department might need each shift to include five firefighters, two lieutenants, and a chief. Each may be working the traditional “24-48” schedule (24 hours on and 48 hours off) or 10-hour shifts over several days. Managing those schedule variations across locations and employee rosters is often complex and ever-changing.

Not having the right mix of employees on duty can have life-or-death implications for the communities they serve, making scheduling a top factor in maintaining a well-run public safety organization. Without the right tools for scheduling employee shifts, a range of complications can occur, leaving your department short-staffed or burdened with an outsized overtime expense, or both. Inefficient scheduling resulting in excessive hours can also lead to overworked or burnt-out employees. According to a compilation of research in Police Chief Magazine, poor scheduling practices can result in excessive fatigue, increased injury and accidents, and health problems among employees.

Without an automated solution for workforce scheduling, a range of scheduling errors or omissions can occur. Using paper or spreadsheets for scheduling makes it difficult to manage the following scheduling challenges:
● Last-minute employee absences, which creates a scramble for last-minute fill ins
● Employees of different ranks or skill levels swapping shifts without notifying the proper supervisor
● Uneven shift distributions, which not only hurts morale, but also may violate collective bargaining agreements
● Accidentally scheduling employees for a shift during their planned time off

How TCP’s Advanced Scheduler Supports Public Safety Workforce Management

Public safety organizations have specific and complex needs for schedule development and ongoing management. Besides the need to balance hours according to job type, you may also need to create split shifts, seniority-order shift bidding, and other shift scheduling scenarios unique to your organization.

TCP’s Advanced Scheduler takes the pain out of complex scheduling, making it easier to establish police patrol schedules, firehouse coverage, and schedules for other public safety workers, such as EMT staff and 911 phone operators. Here are the many capabilities you can expect when using the Advanced Scheduler:

Create customized schedules to meet your requirements and staffing parameters
Using employee profiles you can sort by tenure, rank and qualifications, you can create schedules and determine eligible replacements to cover shifts when an employee is on vacation, injured or has called in sick. Our interactive solution helps you match shift change requests to staff qualifications in real time. You can immediately see which individuals are available and qualified to fill in for a specific rank during a specific shift. When you need to make changes, drag-and-drop functionality allows you to quickly set new schedules or create scheduling exceptions.

Provide your workforce with more scheduling flexibility
The Advanced Scheduler enables your workforce to easily swap, drop or offer shifts to coworkers. Instead of filling out forms or constantly checking in with the officer in charge, individuals can make allowable schedule changes without causing a shift imbalance. Research shows this flexibility not only empowers your workforce, but also enables them to get back to the core work of their position. In an Accenture survey, 68 percent of public sector workers said that the automation of routine tasks gave them the freedom to focus on more important work.

Integrate time-off requests with schedules
Instead of using separate systems for scheduling and attendance tracking, you can do both within the Advanced Scheduler portal. Time-off requests seamlessly integrate with employee schedules, and managers can see schedule changes as they approve requests. With dynamic messaging tools, you can also configure the Advanced Scheduler to send notifications to managers and employees when there is a shift change or incoming request.

Stay better informed about your workforce with reporting and dashboards
The Advanced Scheduler works round the clock alongside your 24/7 operations. You can run reports to help you see all shifts at a glance or even set the tool to send a customized report to your inbox each morning. You can also customize your dashboard with widgets that give you different views of shifts and schedules across your entire workforce.

Schedule Your Workforce with Greater Efficiency

We recognize the critical importance of having proper shift coverage at all times, so your public safety workforce can perform at its best. Advanced Scheduler makes it easy to create workforce schedules and keep all of your shifts fully staffed with the optimal mix of individual skill, experience, and job grade. Show us your most complex scheduling needs, and we’ll show you how TCP’s automated scheduling solution can help. To learn more, contact us for a live demo.